TV Reviews : 'New & Improved Kids' Profiles Four Families

The most important job on Earth requires no experience; it doesn't even come with an instruction book. It's called being a parent.

For the past year, a responsible series of one-hour specials, under the umbrella title "Raising Good Kids in Bad Times," have offered some valuable on-the-job training.

Tonight's segment, "New & Improved Kids" (8 p.m. on KTLA Channel 5), focuses on ways parents can help children feel good about themselves and become part of a stronger family unit. Hosted by Loni Anderson, the hour is an unusually intimate profile of four families who are fighting to overcome complex but all-too-common problems through a variety of parenting programs.

They're learning to listen, to negotiate, to foster mutual respect and find ways to break old patterns of abuse, of negativity.

Ironically, it is the one story that seems to have no hopeful progress to report that makes one of the strongest arguments for seeking outside help. A divorced woman, a parenting counselor herself, doesn't have the answers to help her angry, deeply troubled 8-year-old. She mentions that "soon" she'll seek counseling, but right now she sees his problems as her failure.

The hour includes a checklist review of parenting tips and where to write for more information. This fourth special in an exceptional series was written, produced and directed by Carol L. Fleisher.

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